Despite the competition in the Western Conference, LeBron James still expects to make the NBA Finals once again next year.

James joined the Lakers earlier this summer in a four-year deal, marking his first-ever foray into the Western Conference. In four of the last five years, the 33-year-old has seen his teams lose to sides from the West during the NBA Finals, mainly the Golden State Warriors.

And now playing in Los Angeles, James and his teammates may have to get past the Warriors or the Houston Rockets, or even both, during the playoffs if the Lakers are to have a first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

And while his arrival has transformed the Lakers into playoff contenders, oddsmakers and projection indexes don't view them as favorites with an ESPN projection index from August only giving them a five percent chance of making the NBA Finals.

Despite this, the heavy competition in the Western Conference was never a factor for James when he decided to join the Lakers.

“Nah, that was never a thought,” James told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday night. “I don’t really buy into [defeat]. I feel like with me on the floor, I can compete versus anybody individually. But at the end of the day, in order to win, your teams have to be great. Individuals are very great, but in order to win a championship, you have to have great teams.”

“I would never get into [an East-West] conversation like that. ‘Oh, he’s competitive in the East, but [the West is different].’ I’m well respected by my peers and that’s all that matters. I’m going to be as patient as I can be. I know I got a young squad, but these guys are willing to learn and I’m willing to learn with them,” he said.

The Lakers definitely showed they could compete this week. Although it was a preseason game, they defeated the Warriors 123-113 in what was a highly-competitive game Wednesday night.

The two teams will meet once again Friday at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, in what will be the final game of the preseason. Given the nature of Wednesday's game, it wouldn't be a surprise if most NBA fans wanted to see them face off in the Western Conference Finals in 2019.

If that is the case, James is at risk of seeing his streak of eight consecutive Finals appearances coming to an end. However, it's not the end of the world for the Akron native either.

“[The Finals streak] means a lot,” James added. “To have a streak of anything is significant. Games played, threes made, Finals appearances. These are things that you can always talk about when you get older and are done with the game, but at the end of the day, they all come to an end.”

The Lakers kick off their 2018/19 campaign against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 18 at the Moda Center in Oregon.